A maul is a play teams can use to gain metres or help to score a try

There are several weapons to a team’s game plan and a maul is just one string in the bow. It can be used anywhere on the field but fans are most likely to see it in action off the back of a line-out.

World Rugby define a maul as “consisting of a ball carrier and at least one player from each team, bound together and on their feet”. From the line-out, usually close to the try line, the team attacking will form a maul to drive the ball over the line to score. But a referee can rule a tackle a maul if the person being tackled is held up on their feet by opposition players.

The governing body says when a maul is being formed a player “ripping the ball from the ball carrier must stay in contract with that player until they have transferred the ball”. In addition, once it is formed it must move towards the try line.

There are several laws players must adhere to. Players must not be offside and must join the maul from an onside position. If a player leaves they must go behind the offside line, it is possible for these players to re-join the maul. When joining a player must bind onto the player furthest back. They should also have their head and shoulders lower than their hips.

What is a maul: How does the play end?

World Rugby have also listed how the play finishes. They say it ends and play continues when:

  • Ball or ball-carrier leaves the maul.
  • The ball is on the ground.
  • The ball is on or over the try line.

A maul ends unsuccessfully when:

  • The ball becomes unplayable.
  • The maul collapses (not as a result of foul play).
  • Maul does not move towards a goal line for longer than five seconds and the ball does not emerge.
  • The ball-carrier goes to ground and the ball is not immediately available.
  • The ball is available to be played, the referee has called “use it” and it has not been played within five seconds of the call.
  • If a maul is formed immediately after a player has directly caught an opponent’s kick in open play, a scrum that is awarded for any of the above reasons will be to the team of the ball catcher.

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